A Stitch in Time Mastering The Art of Basic Clothing Hemming

How to sew a basic hem on clothing


Sewing is an age-old craft that has been passed down through generations, allowing us to create and mend garments with love and care. Among the essential skills every sewing enthusiast should master is hemming – the process of creating a neat and finished edge on clothing. Whether you want to tailor pants to the perfect length or mend a ripped skirt, learning how to sew a basic hem is a valuable skill that can save you time and money. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to achieve a flawless basic hem on clothing, empowering you to breathe new life into your wardrobe with your own two hands.

Gather Your Supplies

Before we dive into the hemming process, let’s start by gathering the necessary supplies. You’ll need a sewing machine or a needle and thread if you prefer hand-sewing, a pair of sharp fabric scissors, pins, a ruler or measuring tape, and an iron. Select a thread that closely matches the fabric colour to ensure a seamless finish.

Measure and Mark

The first step in hemming is to determine the desired length for your garment. Put on the clothing item and decide how much you want to shorten it. Use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the distance from the current hemline to the desired length and mark it with a fabric pencil or tailor’s chalk.

Prepare the Hem

To prepare the fabric for the hem, you’ll need to trim the excess fabric. Add an extra inch to the desired length to accommodate the hem allowance. Fold the fabric up to this new measurement, wrong side to wrong side, and press it with an iron to create a crisp crease. This will help keep the fabric in place as you sew.

Pin the Hem

Secure the folded fabric in place by pinning it every few inches along the hemline. This step is crucial to ensure the hem stays even and consistent as you sew. Take your time to achieve a smooth and balanced appearance.

Hand-Sewing Method

If you prefer hand-sewing, use a basic running stitch or blind hem stitch. Start from the inside of the garment and bring the needle up through the folded fabric, then insert it back down a short distance away, creating evenly spaced stitches. Make sure the stitches are small and discreet for a professional finish.

Machine-Sewing Method

For machine-sewing, select a straight stitch on your sewing machine. Begin sewing along the hemline, making sure to keep the fabric flat and the stitches straight. As you approach the side seams, handle them with care, ensuring the fabric lies flat and smooth to avoid any puckering.


If you are hemming a flared garment, like a skirt or dress, you may need to taper the hem. Gradually transition from the original hemline to the new desired length. This tapering technique will create a more natural and flattering look.

Double Fold Hem

Some fabrics, like lightweight or sheer materials, may require a double fold hem to prevent fraying and add extra durability. To create a double fold hem, fold and press the raw edge under by about 1/4 inch, then fold it again to the desired length and press. Pin it in place and sew along the inner fold.

Final Touches

Once you’ve completed the hem, give it a final press with the iron to ensure it lays flat and looks immaculate. Remove any remaining pins, and inspect your work for any loose threads or irregularities.


What is the best stitch for a hem?

The best stitch to use for a hem sewn on your sewing machine is a straight stitch with a medium length. If you are hand sewing, then the best stitch to use is a slip hemming stitch or blind hand stitch. These stitches are almost invisible on the outside of a garment.

What is the easiest hem to sew?

One of the easiest hems to finish, you create a bound hem by sewing binding along the hem allowance to wrap and enclose the raw edge of the fabric. I have a binding tutorial here which shows you how to bind the hem of fabric.


Mastering the art of basic clothing hemming is a valuable skill that will empower you to breathe new life into your wardrobe and mend garments with ease. Whether you opt for hand-sewing or machine-sewing, the process remains relatively simple once you get the hang of it. Remember to take your time, be patient, and practice on scrap fabric before working on your cherished clothing pieces. With dedication and practice, you’ll soon be confidently hemming clothing like a seasoned seamstress. Happy sewing!

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